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TroyBeckon
22October2015
Government
Mr.Rogers
TheLimitlessHelpofaStemCell
Throughoutthecourseofourlives,weallfacethepossibilityofmedicalproblemsthat
notasinglemedicinecancure.Imagine,foramoment,iftherewereanentitythatcouldsolve
countlessmedicalissues,andcuremillionsofpeople.Thisentityisreal,andisknownasthe
stemcell.Ascellsdevelopanddivideintoorganisms,theydifferentiateintospecializedcells
whichcanonlyfunctionfortheirspecificpurpose.Astemcellisonethatisyettodifferentiate,
meaningthateachstemcellhastheabilitytobecomeanytypeofcellintheentireorganism,
rangingfromnervouscellstomusclecells.Thesearepotenttoolswhichcanbeincredibly
powerfulintherealmofmedicine,andcuremanylethaldiseases.Inordertoenhanceour
knowledgeandapplicationofstemcellsandtherebysavecountlesslives,anagencymustbe
createdthatworkssolelyonstemcellresearchandapplication.TheStemCellActof2015will
createthatagencyandshouldbecomealawsothatthesenecessarymedicaladvancementscan
occur.
AutoimmunediseaseaffectshundredsofthousandsofpeopleintheUnitedStatesandhas
becomeoneofthemostdangerousandlethaltypesofdiseasesoutthere.Onetypeof
autoimmunedisease,HIV,isapainfuldiseasethatcanbequitelethal.
HIVaffectsspecificcells
oftheimmunesystem,calledCD4cells,orTcells.Overtime,ifleftuntreated,HIVcandestroy
somanyofthesecellsthatthebodycantfightoffinfectionsanddisease.
(Miller).HIVshuts


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downthehumanimmunesystem,leavingthepatientunprotectedfromothertypesofdisease.
Withtheuseofstemcells,thereisachancethatHIVcouldbecured.HIVinfectstheimmune
cellsthroughaprotein,whichismadebythegeneCCR5.Therewasacaseinwhichamans
HIVwascuredafterasimplebonemarrowtransplant,butthiswouldproveimpossibleformass
use,WithoutCCR5,HIVwasntabletoinfectthesereplacementimmunecellsandBrownhas
beenabletogooffhismedications.Theproblemisthattherearentenoughpeoplewith
naturallyoccurringCCR5mutationstoserveasbonemarrowdonorsforallHIV
patients.(Chen)Withtheuseofstemcells,doctorscouldmutatetheCCR5geneinstemcells
thatwillbecomeimmunesystemcells.Then,animplantcanbemadethathasthepotentialto
removetheinfectedimmunecells,replacethemwithhealthyones,andpossiblycureHIV.This
treatmenthasincrediblepotential,andtheStemCellActof2015canleadtocuresinthis,aswell
asotherdiseases.
Cancerisanotherextremelylethaldiseasewhichtakescountlessliveseveryyear.In2015
anestimated1,658,370patientswillbediagnosedwithcancer,andthediseasewillcause
589,430deaths.Cancerisacomplicateddiseasethathastroubleddoctorsforyears,Canceris
thenamegiventoacollectionofrelateddiseases.Inalltypesofcancer,someofthebodyscells
begintodividewithoutstoppingandspreadintosurroundingtissues.(Williams).Thismeans
thatcertaincellswilldividewhentheyshouldnot,whichcancausehugeproblemslikeleukemia
andtumors.However,stemcellsareusedtohelptreatcancer.Inchemotherapy,radiationisused
tokilloffmostofthecancerouscells,butinturncankillthestemcellsinbonemarrow.Thisis
fortunatelynotaproblemwiththehelpofstemcells,
BMTandPBSCTreplacestemcells
destroyedbytreatment.Thehealthy,transplantedstemcellscanrestorethebonemarrows


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abilitytoproducethebloodcellsthepatientneeds.(Shah).
Oncethenewstemcellsareinthe
body,theyfurtherhelpeliminatecancer,Thesecellsthenattackthecancercellsthattheyseeas
foreignthereby"curing"thepatientofthecancer.Therearemanycomplicationsthatcan
occurbutitiscurrentlyasuccessfulprocessthatisused.(Mantina).Withthesestemcells,we
cantakeoneofthemostlethaldiseasesever,andfindacure.Thisreinforcesourneedfor
developmentinstemcellresearchwithstemcellscomecures.
Anotherbenefitofstemcellresearchandapplicationisthatthecostofstemcell
treatmentissignificantlylowerthanthecostsfortreatmentsofdiseaseslikeHIVandcancer.On
average,thecostofasingletreatmentforstemcellsis$10,000.Althoughthismayseemhighat
first,itislesscomparedtootherdiseases,
Currently,thelifetimetreatmentcostofanHIV
infectionisestimatedat$379,668(in2010dollars).(Harter).Also,cancerisanextremely
expensivetreatment.Thecost:$120,000for4doses.Asstaggeringafigureasthatis,thedrug
ishardlyaloneinitsloftyprice.Webelievethattheimmensecostofcontemporarycancerdrugs
signalsevengreatercostsforfuturedrugs(Siddiqui).Withtheseextremelyhighcostsfor
treatment,thecosteffectivenessofstemcelltreatmentismuchbetter,asstatedinareportbythe
NationalInstituteofHealth,Bearinginmindthelimitations,existingevidencesuggeststhat
siblingdonorallogeneicSCTmaybemoreeffectivethanchemotherapy.(Hyde).Stemcell
researchwouldthusallowlowerincomefamiliestheopportunitytotreatthesediseasesthey
couldnotaffordbefore,thussavingevenmorelivesthanthealreadyknowntreatments.
Somepeoplemightbeopposedtoadvancesinstemcellresearchforafew,invalid
reasons.Onepossibilityisthatcertainpeopleholdthebeliefthatstemcellextractionisabortion,
andkillsahuman.Thisisincorrectbecauseeventhoughembryonicstemcellextractiondoeskill


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theembryo,itisextractedfarbeforeanyhumandevelopmentbegins.Embryonicstemcells
onlycomefromfourtofivedayoldblastocystsoryoungerembryos.(Harris).Theembryos
usedforstemcellresearchwerenotevenplannedtobecomeahumantheyaredonatedfrom
thosewhootherwisedestroytheembryo.Somepeoplewillsaythatanembryoisahumanfrom
themomentofconception,andthatahumanlifeisendedwhenevertheembryoisdestroyed.
Althoughthisideadeservessomerespect,itcannotholdanargumentandwasevenruledagainst
intheSupremeCourtcaseRoevs.Wade.Inthiscase,thedecisiononwhenabortionshouldbe
abletooccurendedinfavoroftheprochoicerepresentatives,Forthestagepriorto
approximatelytheendofthefirsttrimester,theabortiondecisionanditseffectuationmustbeleft
tothemedicaljudgmentofthepregnantwoman'sattendingphysician.(Roevs.Wade).This
rulingdeclaresthatduringthefirsttrimester,abortionwillbelegal,andwillnotconsistof
murderingahuman.Anotherreasonsomepeoplemightbeopposedtostemcellresearchis
becausetheyareafraidthatthiscouldleadtohumancloningandgoesbeyondwhatisethically
right.Thisisaninvalidargumentbecauseitiscompletelyopinionbasedandholdsnotruefact.
Thosewhoopposestemcellresearchforthisreasonareafraidofhumansplayinggod,butthese
argumentsaredrivenbyfearpreventhelpfulprocesses.Besides,cloninghasalreadybegun.
Althoughitwilltakeaconsiderabletimebeforewefullyunderstandthenatureofgenomic
programmingandtotipotency,wemayexpectthatsomaticcellcloningtechnologywillsoon
becomebroadlyapplicabletopracticalpurposes,includingmedicine,pharmaceutical
manufacturingandagriculture.(Ogura).Thisfieldofstudyisalsoentirelyseparatefromthe
fieldthatdealswithstemcells.Cloninghasalreadybegun,andeventhoughitmaybeascary
ideaforamoreconservativemind,stemcellresearchcannotbeinhibitedbyhesitantbeliefs.The


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StemCellActof2015willnotbecomeanagencytoclonehumans,playgod,orendhuman
lives.
Therearemanypositiveeffectsofincreasingourresearchandapplicationofstemcells.
Theycanhelptreatandcuretwoofthelethaldiseaseswefaceasapopulation:cancerandHIV.
Cancertreatmentsneedstemcellstoreplacethosekilledinthebonemarrowfrom
chemotherapy,andforHIV,alargenumberofcellswithacertainmutationareneeded.There
arenotnearlyenoughdonorstofullyfillthedemand,sostemcellscanbegiventhatmutation
andthenreplicatedinlargeamountsinordertobalanceoutthedemand.Thecostsoftreatment
forcancerandHIVasofnowistremendouslyhigh,butwillgodownasweusestemcell
treatmentmore.TheStemCellActof2015needstobecomealawsowecanmakethese
medicaladvancements,savecountlesslives,andmaketheworldamuchbetterplace.


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WorksCited
Chen,Irvin."California'sStemCellAgency."
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Hyde,Charles."ClinicalEffectivenessandCosteffectivenessofStemCellTransplantationin
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Laidel,John."BloodFormingStemCellTransplants."
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Miller,Nathan."WhatIsHIV/AIDS?"
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2015.
Ogura,Atsuo,KimikoInoue,andTeruhikoWakayama."RecentAdvancementsinCloningby
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Roevs.Wade."Roev.Wade."
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Scott,ChristopherThomas.
StemCellNow:FromtheExperimentThatShooktheWorldtothe
NewPoliticsofLife
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Siddiqui,Mustaqeem,andS.VincentRajkumar."TheHighCostofCancerDrugsandWhatWe
CanDoAboutIt."
MayoClinicProceedings
.MayoFoundation,4Oct.2012.Web.01
Nov.2015.<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538397/>.
Williams,Sarah."WhatIsCancer?"
NationalCancerInstitute
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2015.<http://www.cancer.gov/aboutcancer/whatiscancer>.